We were pretty lucky when River was a babe in that he usually cried only for one reason – food. He cries, we gave him the breast or a bottle, most of the time he became happy.
Now all of a sudden he cries for many other reasons. Hey, you took “The Sex-Starved Marriage” book I pulled off the shelf at Barnes and Noble away from me! Hey, I wanted to spend more time putting things from the back of the toilet onto the toilet seat! Hey, I really don’t like wearing diapers and resent you forcing this on me! I’d rather play than nap, even if I’m tired! And of course, I want my bottle back. And I need that food I see you preparing right this instant.
For at least the first six months of River’s life, I subscribed to the baby cries for a reason camp. When River cried, I responded.
I read that after six months, when babies become more cognizant, they can start to manipulate. Somewhere in there is the point where the parent needs to set the rules and the boundaries. Somehow we floated through the second half of the year without any crises. He slept, he was personable, he ate, he pooped. All were happy.
But now he’s got opinions and he has definitely added wants to his needs. I feel the difference. Now we have to remember that we are the parents and we know what is best. I hear cries more often than I did before and they are usually complaint cries. I’ve had to learn to not always react to them. To let him move through his anger or disappointment himself – which generally doesn’t last more than a couple of seconds.
I feel confident that right now, we as the parents do know what is best for him, and what is best for us as a family unit. I also realize that someday, as he grows and turns into his own person, he will know more and more about what is right for him. At some moment, his self-knowledge will exceed our ability to determine what is best for him. I imagine that identifying that moment and letting him go will be one of the more challenging parts of having a young adult.